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Property taxes going down, water rates going up, in proposed Aberdeen budget

Contact Reporterebutler@theaegis.com

Aberdeen residents could see a slightly more than a penny decrease in the property tax rate next fiscal year, though water rates will be going up, according to a budget introduced to the city council Monday night.

Aberdeen City Manager Randy Robertson submitted a $29.3 million total budget request for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, which begins July 1. It is an overall decrease of 4.1 percent from this year’s budget of $30.5 million.

Robertson has proposed a property tax decrease of 1.02 cents per $100 of assessable base, from 65.02 cents to 64 cents for city residents, according to the budget. The proposed rate is below the city’s constant yield tax rate, Robertson said.

“I think that whenever you can return money to the taxpayers, that’s a good thing,” Mayor Patrick McGrady said after Monday’s meeting.

The city’s water rate is proposed to increase 59 cents from $19.09 to $19.68 for a minimum 3,500 gallons or less, while the rate per an additional 1,000 gallons over 3,500 gallons will increase 17 cents from $5.77 to $5.94, according to the budget proposal.

Aberdeen employees stand to get a pay raise of more than 2 percent, McGrady said.

The city struggles with its hiring, like “probably every organization,” Robertson said. The budget he proposed “takes good care of this team,” he said, but did not mention pay raises.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at its next meeting, on May 6 at 7 p.m.

The biggest portion of the city’s budget is is general fund, which is proposed to increase by 1.3 percent, or $226,452, from $17.7 million to $17.9 million.

The Stadium Fund is also proposed to increase, by 9.3 percent, or $90,300, from $975,473 to $1.06 million in FY2020.

The city’s remaining three funds are each expected to decrease— the Capital Projects Fund (19 percent), the Water Fund (19.4 percent) and the Sewer Fund (4.4 percent), according to the budget.

Sewer rates will remain at $23.65 for the first 3,500 gallons and $6.74 per 1,000 gallons additional, according to the proposal.

In the general operating budget, property taxes are the greatest source of revenue, about $10.7 million in FY2020. State shared revenue of $1.9 million, county shared revenue of $2 million, and the city’s fund balance of $1.5 million are the next greatest revenue sources, according to the budget.

The greatest expenses in the general fund include general government at $6.8 million, and public safety at $5 million.

Included in the public safety budget for FY2020 is funding for comprehensive physicals for all sworn police personnel, converting a part-time security officer position to full-time and hiring an additional school resource officer.

McGrady said the SRO would be hired to rotate among the city’s four elementary schools — Roye-Williams, Halls Cross Roads, Bakerfield and George D. Lisby at Hillsdale.

Aberdeen Fire Department will also receive a one-time additional contribution, on top of the city’s annual contribution, to help the department upgrade its facility on Rogers Street. The department’s funding is proposed to be $350,000 for FY2020.

Among the capital expenses in the general fund are $65,000 for two police cars — a Dodge Durango ($29,000) and a Ford pickup ($36,000) — street resurfacing ($300,000) and several public works projects.

The water fund capital budget includes $125,000 to design the water connection system between Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, which will allow Aberdeen to buy water from its neighboring city on Route 40 instead of from the county.

The stadium capital budget is $300,000 for crack and joint sealing, removing a wooden deck, stormwater repairs and maintenance, roof repairs and shingle roof replacement on the crab shack and home and visitors clubhouses.

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